Let’s Get Unstuck with
A storybook by SeriouslyCreative to help Banco Popular’s Human Resource Professionals use IdeaExchange to produce more and better ideas, faster.
Let’s Get Unstuck We know that when it comes to thinking up ideas - especially new and breakthrough ideas - it can be hard. In fact, we often feel like our minds are stuck in a box and we just can’t get the ideas out. And all the stresses and interruption in the average word day don’t help. With the dozens of emails, phone calls, reports, deadlines and meeting how is anyone supposed to get any thinking done?!?! Thankfully it can be done with a little help, a little time and techniques. Techniques? Yes. Creative problem solving and ideation techniques have been around for a long time. But it is always surprising how few of us use them. Instead we fall back on the belief that if we just concentrate hard enough we will force the idea out of our head. This rarely works. Innovative and creative thinking requires us to think differently, temporarily suspend judgement, consider issues from new perspectives and widen our scope of possibilities. Techniques are like games that trick the mind into thinking differently and suspends it natural desire to focus only on what you know. Basically said, techniques help you use your imagination and stop the bad habits that kill creativity. So let us introduce you to a technique that can improve your innovative performance and get you unstuck.
IdeaExchange What is IdeaExchange? It is a foundation creativity technique that helps groups of people generate high volume and diversity of ideas in a short amount of time. It also assures that we cross stimulate each others ideas by making sure we see what others are writing along the way. And it has many benefits over regular brainstorming. By having everyone write down their ideas rather than scream them out we assure that everyone participates and contributes ideas AND guarantee that all ideas will be recorded and therefore reviewable after the session. After all, if ideas are the same thing as money why would be throw them away. Because people are writing and not talking people focus on the ideas that are in their heads and are not driven to think in one direction only. This assures that we end up with a greater diversity of ideas in the end which give us a better change of ending up with a great idea.
If I have an idea and share it with you there a good change you will have a great idea too.
IdeaExchange First things First Your are going to need some things before you start: Recording Tools: everyone is going to need something to write with and write on. We like using 3x3 Post-It(R) notes but you can use index cards, plain paper or one huge piece of paper on the wall. The good things about Post-It(R) notes is that you can move them around, put them in clusters and flexibly organize them later. Space to Share & Think: Having a creative, informal and open space to gather your team is great. But most important is having some “space” to share your ideas where everyone can see them. We like to have a big wall that people can gather around and post their notes on. You can just as easily use a big conference table and have people circle around the notes. What is important is having a central area that people can move around and put what they write so others can see it. The Question and More Questions: Every idea session needs a clear and understandable challenge. these challenges are best expressed as a question that people can respond to. Make sure your team understands the challenge, that you are not focusing on the symptoms and that it is wide enough that people have room to “create” and that it doesn’t lead you to specific conclusions. Once you have your challenge you should ask yourself “what questions must be asked in order for us to address this challenge?” By creating a variety of supporting questions you can assure that your team thinks in many different direction and that thinking is pushed to it’s limits. You use these question during your IdeaExchange to stimulate thinking.
Rules for Success
Write ALL ideas down: Now is the time to think up every and all ideas without censoring yourself. One of the biggest failures in ideation is when people assume that an idea is out-of-bounds, is too risky or will not be accepted leading them to not propose it. It is often the idea that is odd, risky and that makes us nervous that are the ones that offer the most value once evaluated. IdeaExchange is about “what if” and not about “yes, but.” Remind people that all ideas are good right now and that - after all - it is anonymous so you might as well write down your wild idea. Don’t talk now - write: People are alway tempted to talk about their ideas. But now is not that time. We want people to get out what is in their heads. The more people talk the fewer ideas they are writing. Remind people that this is a race and that the quantity of ideas is what matters. There will be time to discuss ideas after the IdeaExchange is finished. If you need to put on loud music to make it harder for people to chat. Write Clearly: People need to write clearly enough so other people can read what they write. They also need to write enough so that others understand what they are trying to say. Remember, no one word answers and no 1,000 word dissertations. Build Upon Ideas: People can write new ideas as well as build upon other people’s ideas. If they see an idea and they think they can improve upon it or alter it in some way to bring new value they should write it down. The only rule is not to directly repeat ideas you have written or seen.
IdeaExchange Quotes always help people focus on what is important. You can use these quotes to kick off your IdeaExchange.
Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome - samuel johnson In other words, don’t censor yourself, think about what might be. If we don’t think big and challenge assumptions we will not get anywhere.
The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas. - Linus Pauling Write down everything. Even if 99% of the ideas don’t work out the 1% that do are what matter. Put the percentage numbers in your favor by writing down as many ideas as possible.
Step by Step: One
Give people the challenge questions and give them a moment to quickly discuss it to assure everyone understand it. Make sure it is written somewhere visible so people can refer back to it. Based upon the challenge question people should write down every idea they have. One idea per Post-It(R) note. Write clearly and enough information for people to get your idea. <extra> put on music and change it up often so that peopleâ€™s minds are re-engaged constantly.
Questions in. Ideas out.
Step by Step: Two
After a few minutes have people post their notes onto the wall. Have them randomly read 3-5 ideas. They them must see if they can improve on any of those ideas, co-oped something from an idea to improve one of their ideas or alter and idea into something new. They can decide to simply add more ideas from their minds. The idea here is that they see if they get any stimulus from other people’s ideas and KEEP WRITING new ideas and add them to the wall. Remember, keep the pressure on - it’s a race.
“Hum, that idea gives me an idea.”
Step by Step: Three
After the first two wall postings start adding sub-questions that relate to your overall challenge questions. These questions are meant to get people unstuck and see the challenge from another perspective. Add a new question whenever you see people slowdown or in regular intervals. Make sure these questions are visible - either projected, written on a white board or or on large sheets of people. Some people need to â€œseeâ€? the question in order to understand it better. <extra> Another way to do this is to give everyone on the team a list of these questions and let them use them as needed.
More questions equal more ideas. Variety of questions equals variety of ideas.
Step by Step: Four
Once you feel you have exhausted the ideas have people start clustering them into groups that make sense to them. Have people start this by first just moving notes around WITHOUT TALKING. The rule is that anyone can move a note to whatever grouping they think makes sense. Yes, there will be conflicts as people move notes back and forth. Once you see groups emerging have people start talking and making sense of them. Have them agree on where ideas go and then have them give each group a name.
Step by Step: Five
Have people vote on ideas that they like by using markers or small stickers. You can add structure to this by giving people a criteria for the voting or even have categories for votes (ie. blue star for ideas that has potential for increasing revenue, red star for ideas that strengthen future business potential). A good ratio is to give people votes equal to 1/4 the amount of ideas on the wall.
Step by Step: Six
See if there are ideas that work together from those that were voted on. Now take the best ideas and turn them into more understandable concepts. Write a more detailed summary around this idea with information that explains what problem or opportunity it addresses, what it would do and how, who would it benefit and how. Discuss how this idea could be improved, what might be added to it, how it might fail and what would need to be done to assure that didn’t happen and what changes might help it have more impact. Think of this as a second round of “brainstorming” to make more out of your ideas before you take a final vote on them. Summary of idea with what it is, what it solves, who will it involve, what results can we expect, why is it the right idea right now and what might it need to be improved.
Step by Step: Seven
Great! You have the ideas you need. But donâ€™t stop here. Ideas are the most valuable product your company has and they should be saved, reviewed and reused. Have all the ideas put into a spreadsheet or list and saved. Pull the list out the next time you need to develop ideas around a similar topic to see if any apply. An idea that didnâ€™t get used a year ago might be the perfect solution today.
IdeaExchange So how could you use IdeaExchange in your Org? Use it for your next brainstorming. How about using it to kick off any meeting of seven people or more. Could you have a monthly half-day â€œideaexchangeâ€? where everyone in your group brainstorms on the three or four biggest challenges? How about using it at your next company wide meeting? Could you set up a public area where important questions are posted and everyone in the organization can post ideas as they walk by? Could these ideas be shared at the end of every month? Could there be rewards for the most new ideas? The point is that this simple technique can be used in many ways for groups small or big and whenever ideas are needed (which is most of the time.)
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Quick overview on basic Idea Exchange techniques by SeriouslyCreative.